Wisconsin consumer protection officials say a continuing bogus call is targeting residents this tax season.
The phone calls come from either a live person or as a robo-call, and claim to be from the Internal Revenue Service. They claim the victim is behind on taxes and demand immediate payment. If the victim doesn’t pay over the phone, they threaten legal action and tax evasion charges.
Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection Deputy Secretary Sandy Chalmers says the IRS just isn’t in the practice of making contact that way. “The IRS never asks the taxpayer to pay their tax bill over the phone, using a credit card or a wire transfer. If the IRS contacts a customer about unpaid taxes, they do so by postal mail, not over the phone.”
They will also not ask you to use a prepaid debit card like Green Dot, a favored target of scammers.
Chalmers says crooks are using software to place those calls and can make them look official. “Don’t be fooled if your caller ID displays ‘IRS’ or the agency’s toll free number, because crooks can make manipulate the caller ID to say whatever they want it to.”
This has been a long term, ongoing problem for the department and Chalmers says people need to get the word out. “We have people who are being victimized by this scam every day, and it’s something you may want to talk with your elderly friends and neighbors about so they know to expect this call and how to protect themselves.”
If you get one of these calls, simply hang up. If you’ve been scammed, contact local authorities.